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or tenants, which said interests, and each of them, if any there are, are illegal and void and constitute a cloud upon the title” of the parties in interest. There is no other averment in the original bill respecting the interests or claims of the defendants than the general statement above quoted. The bill concluded with the usual prayer for partition.

Cordelia and John W. Yantis filed a joint and several answer to said bill, admitting the ownership and death of William Claridge and that the lands were devised as stated in the third clause of the will. These defendants, however, contended for a somewhat different construction of the clause of the will devising the lands in question. The answer denies that the title did not vest under the will until the death of the life tenant, and charges that by the will the fee vested in Mary J. Dixon and her two children subject to the life estate of Elizabeth Claridge. The answer denies that Mary J. Dixon and her children, or either of them, have any interest whatever in said real estate, and avers that Cordelia Yantis owns all of said real estate in fee simple; that the title of Cordelia Yantis was obtained in the following manner: On February 17, 1890, John W. Dixon and wife conveyed, by warranty deed, his undivided interest in said premises to George D. Chafee, and that on February 17, 1892, Chafee conveyed the same premises to Cordelia Yantis; that on October 2, 1891, the said John W. Dixon conveyed, by quit-claim deed, all his interest in the premises to E. A. Richardson, and on May 19, 1892, said Richardson conveyed the said premises to Cordelia Yantis. The answer then alleges a recovery of a judgment in favor of J. J. Chrissenberry against John W. and Mary J. Dixon, and, by virtue of an execution on said judgment levied upon the interest of Mary J. Dixon, Cordelia Yantis obtained a sheriff's deed, under said sale, September 29, 1894, to the interest of Mary J. Dixon in the premises. By the conveyance aforesaid it is alleged that Cordelia Yantis became the owner in fee simple of a two-thirds interest in said land, subject only to the life estate of the widow, Elizabeth Claridge. The answer then avers that on October 1, 1894, Cordelia Yantis, as owner of a two-thirds interest in fee, filed her bill for partition against Elzina Deadman, and avers that such proceedings were had in that case as resulted in a decree of the circuit court of Shelby county finding that Cordelia Yantis was the owner of two-thirds and Elzina Deadman the owner of the remaining one-third. The answer shows that commissioners were appointed in that proceeding, who found the lands not susceptible of division and partition and assigned the north-east quarter of the south-west quarter of section 14 and the north-west quarter of the south-west quarter of section 12, being eighty acres of the two hundred acres, to Elizabeth Claridge in full of her interest in the whole. The answer shows that the lands were appraised in separate tracts at $3200 and that the sale was had on November 30, 1894, and that Cordelia Yantis bought the same for $3275; that the master issued a certificate of sale to her, which was by her assigned to C. W. Steward, upon which a master's deed was issued April 1, 1895, conveying to Steward the whole of said premises, including the eighty acres set off to the widow, subject, however, to her life estate in said eighty acres; that the sale was afterwards approved by the court, and that Elzina Deadman received, in full of her one-third interest, $1078.41, and receipted for the same. The answer charges that Elzina Deadman had been duly served with process and had full knowledge of all of said proceedings and that she received and receipted for the proceeds of said sale, and that the purchaser, Steward, went into possession of one hundred and twenty acres of said land, the widow being in possession of the other eighty. It is alleged that by virtue of said partition proceeding and sale said Steward became the owner in fee simple of the whole of said tract, subject to the life estate in eighty acres, and that he went into possession and remained

open and notorious possession from thence until he con

in

veyed the same; that afterwards the widow leased the said eighty acres to said Steward, and that under the said lease said Steward was in possession of the eighty acres and of the one hundred and twenty acres as owner.

It is averred that said Steward made valuable and lasting improvements upon said premises after he obtained said deed and before the commencement of this suit; that on June 10, 1904, said Steward, in consideration of $5000, conveyed the whole of said premises to Cordelia Yantis, subject to the rights of the widow therein; that Cordelia Yantis succeeded to the immediate possession of said premises and has been in possession all of the time until the bringing of this suit, and still is in possession of same. It is averred that said Steward and Cordelia Yantis paid all of the taxes assessed upon said premises under claim and color of title made in good faith, and that such payment of taxes was made for more than seven successive years preceding the filing of the bill. The answer claims title by limitation, and sets up the laches of Elzina Deadman in bringing this suit as a bar to the

By an amendment to her answer Cordelia Yantis alleges that she made valuable and lasting improvements on the land after she obtained the deed from Steward.

John W. Dixon filed a cross-bill, in which he claimed to be the owner of a one-third undivided interest in the premises, and charged that Mary J. Dixon and Elzina Deadman were the owners of the other undivided two-thirds interest therein. He charges in his cross-bill that his undivided interest is subject to a certain indebtedness due to John W. or Cordelia Yantis, secured by a mortgage upon his interest, brought about as follows: On February 17, 1890, John W. Dixon borrowed from George D. Chafee $500 and executed to Chafee a mortgage in the form of a deed for said premises to secure a note for said amount; that on October 2, 1891, he became indebted to E. A. Richardson in the sum of $100, and executed to him a mortgage in the form of a deed upon said premises to secure said debt; alleges that

same.

on February 17, 1892, said Chafee and Richardson were desirous of receiving their money, and that John W. Dixon arranged with John W. Yantis for the money to pay said indebtedness, and that Chafee and Richardson were to transfer said security to Yantis; that in pursuance of this arrangement Chafee and Richardson, at the request of Dixon, and by arrangements with John W. Yantis, conveyed said premises to Cordelia Yantis; avers that said Yantis paid the indebtedness to Chafee and Richardson and advanced to Dixon the further sum of $400, making a total of about $1200; that John W. Dixon executed his notes to said Yantis for said amount and received from said Yantis bond for a deed for the re-conveyance of said premises

upon the payment of said indebtedness; alleges that he has made payments in money and property to a large amount and that there is not to exceed the sum of $600 now due on said indebtedness; prays for an accounting and offers and tenders to pay whatever may be found to be due upon such accounting, and asks that the conveyance to Cordelia Yantis be held as a mortgage and that he be allowed to redeem therefrom.

Cordelia Yantis and John W. Yantis answered the crossbill, in which they deny that the transaction by which the title was conveyed to Cordelia Yantis was a loan or that the deed was a mortgage, and re-asserted, as in their previous answer to the original bill, that the transaction was a sale and that the deed was an absolute conveyance made in pursuance thereof. The answer sets up possession, payment of taxes, making of valuable improvements, and insists that John W. Dixon is estopped, by reason of laches, from claiming any rights in the premises.

After replications were filed the cause was referred to a special master to take the proofs and report his conclusions, both of law and fact. The master reported that the original bill and cross-bill were not sustained by the proof and that the equities were with defendants as to both bills, and recommended a decree dismissing them. Elzina Deadman filed sixty-two objections to the findings of the master as respects the original bill and John W. Dixon filed twentythree objections to the findings on the cross-bill, all of which were overruled by the master and the case was heard in the circuit court on exceptions to the master's ruling. The circuit court overruled all exceptions and entered a decree dismissing both the original and cross-bills.

The evidence in this case is very voluminous and need not be set out in this statement. The testimony bearing upon such questions of fact as are necessary to be determined will be set out and discussed in the opinion.

R. M. PEADRO, and BRAZ D. TULL, for appellants.

WALTER C. HEADEN, GEORGE B. Rhoads, and Dove & Dove, for appellees.

Mr. JUSTICE VICKERS delivered the opinion of the court:

Under the third clause of the will of William Claridge there can be no doubt that the testator intended that his wife, Elizabeth M. Claridge, should have the two hundred acres of land in controversy during her natural life, and that his daughter, Mary J. Dixon, and her children, John W. and Elzina, and the survivors of them, should have a vested fee simple title in remainder, subject only to the life estate of the widow. The title of the tenants in fee being vested upon the death of the testator, it became subject to the laws of conveyance, partition and sale on execution for the debts of the owners.

That reversioners and remainder-men owning interests in fee in land subject to an unexpired life estate are entitled to partition is well established law in this State. (Scoville v. Hilliard, 48 I11. 453; Hartmann v. Hartmann, 59 id. 103; Drake v. Merkle, 153 id. 318; Ruddell v. Wren, 208 id. 508; Miller v. Lanning, 211 id. 620; Dee v. Dee, 212 id.

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